Improving the accuracy of gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumor grading with deep learning

Darshana Govind, Kuang Yu Jen, Karen Matsukuma, Guofeng Gao, Kristin A. Olson, Dorina Gui, Gregory E. Wilding, Samuel P. Border, Pinaki Sarder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The Ki-67 index is an established prognostic factor in gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors (GI-NETs) and defines tumor grade. It is currently estimated by microscopically examining tumor tissue single-immunostained (SS) for Ki-67 and counting the number of Ki-67-positive and Ki-67-negative tumor cells within a subjectively picked hot-spot. Intraobserver variability in this procedure as well as difficulty in distinguishing tumor from non-tumor cells can lead to inaccurate Ki-67 indices and possibly incorrect tumor grades. We introduce two computational tools that utilize Ki-67 and synaptophysin double-immunostained (DS) slides to improve the accuracy of Ki-67 index quantitation in GI-NETs: (1) Synaptophysin-KI-Estimator (SKIE), a pipeline automating Ki-67 index quantitation via whole-slide image (WSI) analysis and (2) deep-SKIE, a deep learner-based approach where a Ki-67 index heatmap is generated throughout the tumor. Ki-67 indices for 50 GI-NETs were quantitated using SKIE and compared with DS slide assessments by three pathologists using a microscope and a fourth pathologist via manually ticking off each cell, the latter of which was deemed the gold standard (GS). Compared to the GS, SKIE achieved a grading accuracy of 90% and substantial agreement (linear-weighted Cohen’s kappa 0.62). Using DS WSIs, deep-SKIE displayed a training, validation, and testing accuracy of 98.4%, 90.9%, and 91.0%, respectively, significantly higher than using SS WSIs. Since DS slides are not standard clinical practice, we also integrated a cycle generative adversarial network into our pipeline to transform SS into DS WSIs. The proposed methods can improve accuracy and potentially save a significant amount of time if implemented into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11064
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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